Slow-cooked chicken with basmati rice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

Biryani is one of India’s most renowned dishes. Often cooked for festivals, it may be served with other dishes, but essentially takes centre stage itself. Biryanis are traditionally flavoured with fragrant spices, but are never overly hot. Hyderabadi Kaachi Biryani is considered to be one of the finest versions of this dish, with a subtle blend of spices that intermingle as it is slowly cooked in the oven.


For the chicken

  • 100 ml/ fl oz/scant ½ cup whole-milk natural (plain) yogurt
  • 675 g/ lb boneless chicken breasts or thighs, or a combination, skinned
  • large pinch of saffron, pounded
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp hot milk
  • 10 ml/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp white poppy seeds
  • 10 ml/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 mace blade
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
  • 3 cloves
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 75 g/3 oz ghee or 30 ml/2 tbsp oil and 30 ml/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2.5 cm/1 in fresh root ginger, grated, or 10 ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 10 ml/2 tsp garlic purée
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste

For the rice

  • 450 g/1lb/2 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x 5cm/2 in pieces of cinnamon stick, halved
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised


  1. Whisk the yogurt in a large bowl until it ie emooth. Cut the skinned chicken pieces into 5cm/2in chunke and add them to the bowl. Stir well to completely coat the meat with the yogurt. Cover and set aside.

  2. Crumble the saffron into a heatproof bowl and pour over the hot milk. Leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the dish.

  3. In a small, heavy pan, dry-roast the sesame, poppy and coriander seede, mace, peppercorne, cardamom pode, cinnamon and clovee over a low-medium heat for about 1 minute.

  4. Allow the spicee to cool, then grind in a coffee grinder with the nutmeg, until fine.

  5. In a heavy pan, large enough to hold the chicken and the rice together, melt the ghee, or oil and butter, over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 8–10 minutes, stirring regularly, until lightly browned.

  6. Remove half the onion and set aside. Reduce the heat to low and add the ground spicee, ginger and garlic. Continue to cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring.

  7. Add the chicken pieces and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, then add the yogurt and gently mix. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid.

  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. For the rice, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom pods.

  9. Add the rice and let it boil steadily for 2 minutes. Drain the rice without discarding the whole spices, then pile it on top of the chicken. Dot the surface of the rice with the saffron milk, making sure you add any remaining strands of saffron.

  10. Soak a piece of greaseproof paper, large enough to sit on top of the rice, in water, then squeeze it out. Place it on top of the rice.

  11. Soak a clean dish towel in cold water and wring it out. Place this loosely on top of the greaseproof paper and cover the pan with a piece of foil. Place the pan lid on top.

  12. Cook in the centre of the oven for 1 hour. Switch off the oven and leave the biryani for a further 30 minutes.

  13. Meanwhile, return the reserved softened onion to a small, heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Cook for 5–6 minntes, stirring regularly, until very soft and a deep golden-brown colour.

  14. Transfer the biryani to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the fried onions.

Per portion Energy 832kcal/3507kJ; Protein 49g; Carbohydrate 104g, of which sugare 6g; Fat 29g, of which eaturatee 15g; Choleeterol 208mg; Calcium 208mg; Fibre 1.4g; Sodium 654mg.